April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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Smash House Burgers: Much More Than Kosher Fast Food

Smash House Burgers


Vaad Harabonim of Queens (VHQ)

Meat – Fast Food – Counter Service

69-44 Main Street

Flushing, NY 11367

Sunday-Thursday: noon – midnight

Saturday: 9:15 p.m.-midnight

(718) 640-1762

Meat – Fast Food – Takeout/Delivery

33 West 47th Street

New York, NY 10036

Monday-Thursday: 11a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

(917) 475-1612


The words “kosher fast food” could mean a few different things.

Some people start picturing kosher versions of the food you see in TV commercials. Others are enamored with the potential for kosher restaurant food at a lower cost. Then there are those who just wish there was something they could get quickly in their increasingly busy lives.

Crispy Coated Wings

Benjamin Haimoff founded Smash House Burgers because he wanted to make something that could fulfill those requirements. He looked around the non-kosher landscape for a business model that he could try and emulate and adapt for the kosher world and settled on smash burgers and fried chicken.

So that took care of the stuff out of TV commercials. Next up was the fast part of fast food. Haimoff said that the key here is making the menu small.

“Imagine going with your family and you see a menu that’s like a Megillah,” Haimoff told me. “You’re confused as a consumer. ‘What am I getting? What’s better?’ And it’s also hard on the kitchen.”

Crsipy Onion

Even now after Smash has added a few items, their menu is essentially eight auxiliary items (appetizers and sides), 12 sandwiches (burgers, chicken, wraps and a sub) and five salads. It doesn’t get much simpler than that at a fleish restaurant.

“The whole point was to have quick and delicious glatt kosher food and to make sure that it’s consistent,” said Haimoff about the benefits of a small menu. “Every time you come, it tastes the same.”

So how about the prices? On that front, Haimoff had to figure out how to reduce his costs enough so that he didn’t have to pass along that much to the consumer. After all, kosher meat and certification are no bargain, and rent for a restaurant in a Jewish community isn’t exactly pennies either.

Dirty Fries

For that, Haimoff went with having little (or even zero) seating to minimize square footage. Then he used Smash’s aggressive branding strategy to make it so that he didn’t need the place to look fancy, but instead for it to give off a certain vibe.

“Old-school colors and a nice vibe were also key,” he said. “We want to have a loud, vibrant brand where you recognize our swag. Every location has great graffiti artwork.”

The limited menu means fewer ingredients and therefore minimal food waste (another area where restaurants lose money). Lastly, Haimoff put faith into the popularity of the concept to drive the volume.

Jalapeno Smash

Put all that together and you have the first real kosher fast-food chain. The two locations in Florida (Miami and Boca) did well enough that Haimoff opened one in his native Queens. Now there’s a fourth one in Manhattan and he’s looking to franchise more of them to different communities.

When I was invited to check out Smash, I tried almost everything on their concise menu. I’ll tell you that you pretty much can’t go wrong. They really have spent time perfecting those items. That said, here are some of my favorites.

When it comes to the appetizers, don’t skip the Dirty Fries. Smash has pulled brisket just to put on these fries. There’s also a drizzle of three sauces, making the dish look awesome. If you want something fried but you prefer onions to potatoes, go for the Crispy Onion. This is just a pile of lightly battered onion strands, but you’ll be surprised how hard it is to stop eating them as they are the perfect amount of crunchy while not being overly greasy.

Loaded Smash

Staying on topic, your preference regarding batter and crunch is relevant to whether you might want the Popcorn Chicken Bites or the Crispy Coated Wings. If it’s a lighter item you seek, the Popcorn Chicken Bites will amaze you with how light they are. They have a nicely seasoned outer crisp, but you get great bites of juicy chicken. The Crispy Coated Wings are heaven for those of us who love to bite into a wing and really get that outer crunch.

While the more standard burgers are great, I’ll endorse the Loaded Smash for almost anybody. This is a double burger (each patty is 3.5 ounces) with beef bacon and caramelized onions. It also comes with their signature vegan cheese. And even if you think you won’t like it, give it a try. It’s the best imitation cheese I’ve had, and it actually conveys both the texture and taste of a slice of American cheese.

“We didn’t just use some brand off the shelf,” Haimoff said when I asked about what they were using to such great effect. “We sat there and we tested cheese after cheese until we figured out what we wanted. I think we have the best vegan cheese on the market.”

Philly Cheese Sando

The Jalapeño Smash may have been my favorite burger, but this version is obviously for those who like more of a kick. It’s a double burger with vegan cheese, jalapeño, tomato, purple onion, and jalapeño aioli. It’s actually the only burger that doesn’t come with the signature “Smash Sauce” because it has the jalapeño on it. All the other burgers come with the signature sauce on the side, and I recommend people use it.

My last recommendation will show you how much I like that vegan cheese. Try the Philly Cheese Sando. It’s chopped steak, caramelized onions and vegan cheese served on a sub roll. If you’ve always wondered what a Philly cheese steak might be like, this is the choice for you. It has this meaty/cheesy bite that really makes you want to ask to speak to the mashgiach.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Family Combos. You may have seen these on Instagram. There’s a Basic (feeds four for $75) and a Premium (feeds eight-plus for $180). Every person I’ve spoken to who has ordered these has loved them for both the food and the value. If the hardest part of feeding your family is trying to get everybody to decide what they want, just order this and your problem is solved.

Popcorn Chicken Bites

Smash is fulfilling its promise to the community. It’s fast, affordable, and delicious. If it can keep that up, who knows? Maybe one day those bright retro colors will be the kosher equivalent of the golden arches.

Premium Family Combo


Smash House Burger.

Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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